Business leaders regard the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as the bigger picture for economic growth and have commended Government for being proactive in assisting the country to tap into that wider market.
However, and in order to sustain credibility amongst the country’s trading partners, business is urging the Government to finalize the tariff offer regime that would guide the implementation of the historic deal.
In his welcome remarks at the opening of a three day- Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) training workshop on ACFTA in Gweru, ZNCC president Dr Tinashe Manzungu said the all stakeholders should embrace the ACFTA concept.
“We commend our government for committing to the bigger picture of being part of ACFTA. In order to sustain credibility amongst our trading partners, we urge our government to finalize implementation for the continental trade protocol aimed at heightening intra Africa trade,” he said.
“We as private sector are alive to the realities that borders are collapsing before our eyes, customs duty will be wiped away as a reliable revenue source for the treasury and if we are not braced, we will end up becoming a ‘supermarket economy’ or ‘cash till’ economy to the rest of the world.”
Dr Manzungu said the business sector was enthused by Government efforts in implementing the EU-funded SADC Trade Related Facility aimed at strengthening Zimbabwe’s National Quality Infrastructure development of the regulatory framework, training of staff and procurement of equipment.
“This, coupled with interventions by UNDP to partner the chamber can only position Zimbabwe on a higher pedestal,” he said.
“Let me remind all present that our relationship with UNDP dates back to years back with the agenda to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) well documented. At one point, the UNDP had been the benefactor to our SDG Award, which recognized companies investing in Sustainability.”
Dr Manzungu said the training will empower private sector players on appreciation of what ACFTA entails for their businesses.
ZNCC, he said, has noticed a gap where most organizations are not alive to the implications of the AfCFTA agreement on their performance hence the desire to train them on the contents of the agreement.
“As the voice of business, we shall continue living up to the billing by presenting private sector interests , having a partner such as UNDP on board is something no rational soul can ever take for granted, that alone clearly explains the seriousness of the agenda at hand,” said Dr Manzungu.
The training is coming on the backdrop of impressive trade figures by the country regardless of the pandemic, which has ravaged both lives and livelihoods.